Kolkata captain Gautam Gambhir was delighted to shift the pressure from his batsmen onto his bowlers as the Knight Riders last night defeated Dolphins by 36 runs to claim their 13th straight victory.
Led by Robin Uthappa’s 85 and Manish Pandey’s 76, Kolkata amassed 187-2 before Sunil Narine claimed three wickets as Dolphins reached 151-8.
Unbeaten Kolkata had batted second in their previous three Group A encounters but Gambhir was pleased his bowlers were able to perform in different circumstances ahead of the semi-finals, as well as allowing his batsmen to play with greater freedom.
He said: “It was important not to be complacent. We have been chasing last few games and we wanted to let our batters with freedom without scoreboard pressure. The guys took responsibility.
“With the dew it was getting tough for spinners and we wanted to put our bowlers under pressure as well.”
KKR’s 13th successive victory is a record by an Indian team and they look in excellent shape ahead of their semi-final against Hobart Hurricanes on Thursday.
Dolphins made an early breakthrough in the third over when Robbie Frylinck bowled Gambhir for just 12, and the following over Jacques Kallis followed his captain to the bench when Craig Alexander removed him.
However, Uthappa and Pandey soon went about dismantling the Dolphins attack.
Pandey struck five sixes en route to his half-century while Uthappa’s innings was slightly more measured but still featured 13 fours as the duo put on 153 for the third wicket, surpassing Kolkata’s previous record stand of Kallis and Gambhir’s 152, set in April 2011.
In reply, Dolphins saw a number of batsmen contribute but no one could deliver a match-winning innings as Yusuf Pathan and Sunil Narine cleaned out their top order.
Andile Phehlukwayo smashed 37 from just 18 balls and in tandem with Khaya Zondo’s 32, the middle order pair took them within sight of Kolkata’s total but Narine did the rest, finishing with 3-33.
Dolphins bow out having lost all four of their group matches but captain Morne van Wyk admits it has been a learning curve due to the unfamiliarity with both the conditions and the opposition.
Van Wyk said: “Some of us had never seen these bowlers, never played on these grounds. Back home, you play against the same guys often, and have a good idea what you are doing.
“We played against teams used to their conditions. Tough cricket and we’ve learned a lot which we will be taking back a lot to South Africa.”
Know more about Sport360 Application